VMware View: Auto-launching a virtual desktop when multiple entitlements exist using GPOs

If you have worked with VMware View, you know that permissions are set using entitlements.  Entitlements simply grant users and/or groups permissions to a given desktop pool.  Now, if a user is a member of multiple groups, the user may have access to multiple desktop pools.  When they login to the VDI environment using the View client, they will have to decide which virtual desktop to connect to.  In some cases, this may be ok but ideally, we want the users to make as few decisions as possible in regards to which virtual desktop to connect to.  For example, what if there is an employee who works in multiple departments, say Accounting and Marketing…whatever.  When this user logged in, they’d have to select either the Accounting or Marketing desktop pool depending on which department they are working for at the time of their login.  Inevitably, a wrong choice will be made, the desktop won’t look right and a help desk ticket will be created to resolve the issue.  If there are many users with access to multiple desktop pool, this could lead to a nightmare.

But, you can work around this issue using the Group Policy ADM templates that come with VMware View Client Configuration settings, more specifically, the extremely useful DesktopName to select policy which can be used to specify the default desktop that the View client uses during login.  In a nutshell, this policy can be used to enable auto-login to a virtual desktop based on the OU of the endpoint device (that device sitting at the clients desk).

DesktopName to select policy

Take the example given above and lets make a few assumptions:

  • The windows domain name is ad.ballblog.net
  • The accounting and marketing computers accessed by the user are domain members
  • The accounting computer object is in the Accounting/Computers OU
  • The marketing computer object is in the Marketing/Computers OU
  • The computers have also been “converted” to function as a thin client or kiosk, thus there is no interaction with the local OS
  • The desktop pool for the Marketing department is called “MARKETING” and the desktop pool for the Accounting department is “ACCOUNTING”

The DesktopName to select policy is a computer policy, so it must be enforced on the OUs which contain the computer objects.  After importing the View Client ADM template into the Group Policy Management Console, expand:

  • Computer Configuration
  • Policies
  • Administrative Templates
  • VMware View Client Configuration
  • Scripting definitions

and double-click DesktopName to select.  Assuming we are editing the GPO on the Marketing OU, we would Enable the policy and then set the DesktopName to select attribute to match the name of the VMware View desktop pool to which we want the user to auto-login, in this case we enter MARKETING so that the user will auto-login to a marketing virtual desktop once they enter their credentials within the View client.

GPO for the MARKETING OU/desktop pool

Repeat on the ACCOUNTING OU, wait for, or force a GPO refresh and watch with great joy the expression you’ll see on their face when they realize they no longer have to make a decision on which virtual desktop to use!  When the user logs into the View Client on their marketing endpoint device, the marketing virtual desktop will automatically launch, the same will hold true when they login on their accounting endpoint. Well, maybe they won’t really care which is more likely, but I certainly had a smile on my face the first time I used this policy, hopefully you will to.

Again, the DesktopName to select policy is so powerful and easy to use when you have users with access to multiple desktop pools.  VMware View has had the location-based printing GPO out there for a while and DesktopName to select is like having “location-based auto login” GPO, simply brilliant!

P.S.  The View ADM GPO templates can be found on the View Connection Servers in the Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Server\extras\GroupPolicyFiles directory…..

VMware View ADM GPO Templates

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